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Advanced Dental Concepts

The three options to replace a missing tooth

March 18th, 2010

I try to save all the teeth I can, however, at times things happen and a tooth needs to be extracted.  We have only three options to replace that missing tooth.  I will take each one at a time to try to help with this decision.

The first option,  if it is possible for you,  is the best option.  That would be a dental implant.  An implant is a titanium root form that is inserted into the bone.  The bone grows around it and it  integrates with the bone.  This osseous integration takes around 3-6 months.  When integrated satisfactorily,  the surgeon uncovers it and places a  healing cap that is open to the oral cavity.  The implant its self is worthless until a tooth is fabricated that is attached to the implant.  The longevity of the implant is quite good with some lasting over 30 years  now.  It is the most like your own tooth that dentistry can  offer today.

The second option, in order of desirability, would be a fixed bridge.  In this procedure, the tooth in front of the space and the tooth behind the space are prepared for a crown and a false tooth, or as we call it, a pontic, is fabricated between the two crowns.  This restoration is cemented on the prepared teeth and  is not removable.  Special attention has to be taken to properly clean under the bridge on a daily basis.

The third option is a removable partial denture.  This option is the least like your own teeth, but is also the least expensive.  A metal framework is fabricated that has clasps that fit around your existing teeth.  There are plastic “saddles” that have the teeth attached to.  It is removable and has to be taken out to clean the food that gets caught underneath it.   A removable partial and an implant can be used when there are no back teeth to attach a bridge to.

A word about financial considerations.  Most insurance companies will not cover the implant restoration.  The implant is the most expensive of the options but it also has the possibility of being the longest lasting.  So the investment in the implant may be the least expensive for the long term.  The fixed bridge is the next restoration that resembles the original lost tooth and it is  less than The implant but the advantage here is that most insurance companies may help with this procedure.  The removable partial is the least expensive, especially, if you are missing multiple teeth.  Insurance will probably help with the costs on this one.  It is, however, the hardest to get used to wearing and the least like your own teeth.

We would all like to have implants to restore our missing teeth just like we would all like to drive a Mercedes car.  Please see me so I can advise you on what would be the best treatment options for your specific situation.

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